At Sinai Temple in Los Angeles last Shabbat, it was Grandparents Shabbat. Golda Mendelsohn delivered the following wonderful words:
Have you ever heard the expression "If I knew grandchildren were such fun, I would have had them first"? Indeed, fun they are, warm, cuddly and adorable. They are the treasures given to us by our children.
We have been transformed by a new presence in our lives and as a result have acquired a "magical" name for just such an occasion.
We become Grandma, Bubbie, Safta, Nana, Maman. No matter which name we prefer, we all have one thing in common -- a passionate love for our Grandchildren!
My Grandchildren are probably just like yours -- the best, the most brilliant, the best looking, and oh so clever! Who amongst us have not appeared at their Grandchildren's programs -- no matter what time of day or evening, driving across the city or into the Valley to attend Pre-school, Hebrew School, or Public School performances, listening proudly as they sing or speak their three minute part -- applauding wildly, seeing only them, for they are the best!!!
Athletics -- What's there to say???? Soccer, Football, Track, and Volleyball played with such energy and competitive spirit. You know every scout in America will be looking to sign them up!!!
A new phenomenon occurred when some of my Grandchildren reached the "mature" age of 16. I call it "Emancipation/Liberation on Wheels". With the blessings of the DMV and their grandparents, they took to the road and often appeared at our door -- Shabbat dinner or lunch, conversations in our Succah, or just a drop-in. Now we can make plans without including their folks. We began to learn more about their hopes and dreams and we shared ours with them.
Do I ever give advice? Absolutely!!!
Do they ever ask for advice? Absolutely Not!!!
Do they ever listen to my advice? Absolutely Maybe!!!
The advice I give is what any Bubbie or Grandmother might give --
1-- When you go to college, look for a Hillel on campus.
2-- Check and see if there are classes in Hebrew or Judaica.
3-- Make Jewish friends.
4-- Think about applying for a passport, so you can travel to Israel on a Birthright program.
As Grandparents, we become the repository of family history -- storytellers of family legends and adventures. We are out to help build and re-enforce their Jewish memories and solidify their Jewish identities.
Seeing these young people grow has been awesome!!!!
Our Grandchildren range in age from 12-28. I can begin to see the influences of their Parents and Grandparents -- the values of Jewish living and identity are being formed.
They bring food to the needy, give Tzedakah, locally and in Israel, celebrate Shabbat with friends at school, seek study opportunities in Israel AND study Hebrew.
The older among them now have passports and have travelled to Israel. Three have already been on the Birthright program, and a fourth will be leaving later this month, while another will be working as a staff person on the program. We have family in Israel -- Aunts, Uncle, and Cousins who wait with open arms to welcome them. One of our Grandsons now serves in the IDF.
When we get together for Shabbat, both the American side and the Israeli contingent, I look at them and see happy faces, loving to be with one another!!
When we place our arms around each other and sing "Shalom Aleichem", I hear their strong, young voices blending together and I close my eyes and whisper "Thank you G-d for this amazing blessing of being a Grandparent."
כן יהי רצון. May It Always Be So